Category Archives: Ethics

An Open Letter to the Bodyguard Community on Domestic Violence Prevention

An open letter to the Close Protection Community:


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here’s a sobering fact: there are 145 incidents PER HOUR in the United States. I have always had an opinion that every Protector should have a cause, and to me this is a natural one given the nature of our profession.

For seven years I sat on the Board of Directors of the nations oldest shelter for women who were victims of domestic abuse, so that I could get a better understanding of the challenges they faced and offer some unique perspectives coming from our specialized outlook.

Besides the things I did internally with the organization, it helped shaped the direction of the nonprofit I founded called the ISC-Safety Net Which provides free security services to victims of Domestic Violence and the shelters that serve them.

Dozens of protectors have joined me over the years in contributing to the project, and the Safety-Net along with other organizations such as Angel, founded by Mark James of Panther Protection, plan to be more impactful in the upcoming year.

So this month, I challenge you to apply some of the methodical thinking and problem solving that comes with working our craft to help reduce the above number even if it’s only by one digit.

After all, we do call ourselves, “Protectors,” right?


Elijah Shaw


Bodyguards Face Unique Decisions Daily


You enter the limo minutes after your contracted driver, who you used several hours earlier and released, arrives back on the scene. He is a distinguished older gentlemen who you can tell is very prideful about both appearance and vehicle. Moments after you seat the Client, who is running late for an unscheduled meeting, you detect a weak scent of what may be liquor but it is overpowered by the much more noticeable smell of mouthwash.

What if anything do you do?


We discuss topics like this and more during the ICON Academy Executive Protection Training Course:.  Click HERE  for more information.

ICON Academy Scholarship Program: 1 Students Experience


To the Icon Scholarship Selection Committee:

First and foremost I would like to say thanks and express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity that allowed me to be awarded the ICON Academy Scholarship for the Celebrity / VIP Protection Training course of first quarter 2012. The wisdom and expertise the instructors imparted along with the lessons learned during the course will go with me throughout my career.

After being asked to work security at my church I had an instant interest and desire to learn more about the security industry. Later as I began my research into the steps necessary to begin a career in Executive Protection, I have to admit, I became a bit disheartened after seeing that the training courses were very expensive. It is for this reason that I was shocked to see that ICON offered a scholarship program; to my knowledge, no other company out there has a scholarship program –at least none that I could find during my research.

Realizing that this was my opportunity, I completed and turned in all the necessary documents to fulfill the requirements, including what I would later be an important part, namely the section on how I would use skills obtained in the course to better the industry and my community.  Once the deadline was reached, my family and I were extremely excited to learn that I had been awarded the scholarship.

The CPC training course was challenging both mentally and physically but after coming out on the other side I can truly say it was all worth it and I would not trade that experience for anything. The instructors challenged us to take an active role in our development and to think outside of the box where security is concerned. Each instructor brought their own unique style and feel to the training from real life experiences that let us see things in different perspectives, not just teaching scenarios from a book.  My education is in no way complete, and I have additional courses already on the books but this jumpstart was instrumental both financially and motivationally.

To Elijah and all the staff at ICON: Thank you for giving back and offering a scholarship that levels the playing field, giving individuals the opportunity to obtain top notch training at, in my opinion, one of the best companies around.  ICON has given me a chance to achieve my dream and anyone who has a genuine desire to learn but not sure where to begin, you have my strongest encouragement to research the program.

~ Uriah Riley

ICON CPC, Course Graduate, January 2012


Click on the highlighted link to learn more or apply for the ICON Academy Scholarship Program.

Next Dates

Celebrity & VIP Protection:  April 25 – 29, 2012 (Financing & Scholarships Available)

Advanced Executive Protection (High Risk): April 30 – May 9th, 2012 (Financing & Scholarships Available)

Executive Protection Tips #1 – Morals & Ethics

In this week’s installment of the two-minute video tip, host Harlan Austin of Bodyguard Careers and Elijah Shaw of ICON Services Corporation discuss the ethical and moral dilemmas that agents in the Executive Protection industry face on a regular basis.  From romance, to turning a blind eye to unsafe behaviors to cashing in for a quick buck. Bite sized industry tips for those interested or active in the bodyguard profession.

Catch more of the 2 Minute Tips HERE

Bodyguards File Lawsuit Against Employer


The former security director for Vulcan Inc. and three security officers who resigned in recent weeks have sued the Seattle firm claiming they were pushed out after they saw unethical or illegal activities by company executives, including Paul Allen.

While the allegations of wrongdoing remain vague, documents filed in King County Superior Court contain claims of ethical problems and misconduct within the company. One former lead bodyguard said she was forced to resign after the “acts (she) witnessed and had to engage in perform (her) job” compromised her ethics.

Among those who’ve filed lawsuits against the Microsoft billionaire’s personal firm is Vulcan’s former director of security – a FBI agent for more than two decades – and a SEAL school-trained Navy corpsman who worked as a contractor in Iraq.

All four former employees contend they were removed earlier this year around the time all Vulcan employees were asked to sign agreements that they would not pursue legal claims against the company. Instead, they would be required to go before a private arbitrator, effectively removing the disputes from public view.

One member of the team,  executive protection specialist, Thomas RoseHaley described himself as an “experienced medical specialist in the security industry.”

In court documents, RoseHaley said he completed the Navy’s elite SEAL school in 1997 and went on to serve as a combat diver and hospital corpsman. He went into dive medicine after leaving the Navy, then worked in Iraq as a squad medic for a security company.  Toronto employment law firm provides expert legal advice in such cases.

In 2004, RoseHaley began working in executive protection, providing bodyguard services and medical support to private clients. He was hired by Vulcan in November.  Less than a year later, he resigned claiming the “goals and ethics of Vulcan Inc. no longer align” with his.

Click on the link for the full story HERE.


Houston Officers Disciplined for taking Photos with Celebrities

While the incident between a celebrities security and a male who happened to be a West Point Cadet has been commented on at length at several different places across the ‘net, I also want to mention another fire I saw brewing from the moment I watched the footage.  I’m speaking about the on-duty officers who stopped working long enough to take photos with the celebrity.  Unless they were clueless of the incident that occurred minutes before, I think there was a lapse in judgement, if nothing else from appearances sake. Best police scanner app helps to send correct data and notifications.

The Houston Examiner reports :

Two Houston Police officers have been disciplined for posing in pictures with a celebrity’s bodyguards after an airport scuffle that made national headlines.

A new criminal investigation has also been launched into the encounter. Visit  to hire a highly experienced personal detective to solve your personal or corporate criminal cases.

West Point cadet Richard King, 23, is suing legendary R & B singer Patti Labelle after her bodyguards pounced on him in a videotaped scuffle on March 11th.    King said his career at the United States Military Academy at West Point ended because of the ordeal.

Video that was aired on news outlets worldwide showed three of Labelle’s bodyguards confronting King in an intense physical struggle in which King claims in his lawsuit that he was beaten, shoved, and assaulted.

Shortly after medics took him away, the surveillance video of the encounter shows at least one Houston Police officer embracing Labelle and posing for photographs near a pool of blood that King had left on the ground in the spot where he was confronted.

Sgt. David Johnson has been given formal notice that he is being transferred away from the HPD Airport Division as a result of his posing for pictures in this ordeal.   One HPD source involved in the case says Sgt. Johnson had gotten into trouble for the same thing in the past. (emphasis mine, ES) That source said Sgt. Johnson had been seeking autographs and photographs with other celebrities he encountered while patrolling the airport and escorting dignitaries through the airport, which prompted supervisors to warn him against similar encounters in the future.

For the full article click HERE.

It’s more the mentality than anything, and I take issue when it occurs on a protective detail in which the officer are involved.  In many cases law enforcement may be used in an official (or unofficial capacity) by Executive Protection Teams, however compensation for that isn’t intended to come in the form of an autograph or a picture.  Theres a time and place for everything, and more often than not, that request comes at moments that increase rather than limit the VIP’s exposure. Learn about integrated solutions to secure yourself.

As far as the rest of this story.  it’s unfortunate and one that i’m sure will be concluding in the courts.

Ethics in the Executive Protection Industry

The Issue of Ethics


By Elijah Shaw


Recently on the North American Bodyguard Association’s  discussion board (found at either I brought up the subject of moral dilemmas and how they affect the security professional, particularly those involved heavily with close protection.  Because we wanted honest answers to the “What would you do if…” question, we even allowed participants to post their answers anonymously.  While the discussion was lively and a lot of good points were made, I had the sneaky suspicion in the back of my brain that while most answered overwhelmingly on the side of “I won’t cross the line for a client that breaks anything other than a minor law or two” I wondered if those that felt otherwise just choose to keep it to themselves? Anonymous feature or not.

There is an unavoidable reality to the situation that clients are hard to find and once you have them we traditionally do everything in our power to hold on to them and keep them happy.   A bird in the hand so to speak.  But when faced with a situation that might be at odds with our individual ethics, do we turn a blind eye to the activity, or do we hold our ground regardless of the employment consequences?  Of course by and large we all consider ourselves honorable people but the reality of life is that each of us has our own internal compass.  Additionally there’s an age old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”  Does that mean that allowing a client to “get away” with something is ok as long as there is very minimal chance that it would come back to bite you?

Notice that I have not given any examples of the moral dilemmas that are the topic of this column.  That is intentional because up into this point, I wanted you, the reader, to come up with your own set of circumstances in your minds eye.  What may be a black and white to one protection agent may be a shade of grey to another.  However, for the purposes of this discussion, allow me to pose a few questions.  Answer truthfully, and since this article is not required reading for an Executive Protection oral exam (yet) the only person you have to be honest with is yourself.


Situation #1


Your client is a wealthy businessman who has always treated you fairly.  At a country club dinner you sit the next table over and hear the client and his associate engage in conversation that includes a lengthy discussion filled with degrading hate speech about a particular minority group.  Once back in the car he asks how you feel about that particular group.  What do you say?


Expanding on that: Would your response change if hypothetically your son were now married to a woman in that particular racial group?


Situation #2


You receive instructions from your Principal that you’re to accompany him on a two day out of town business trip.  Once there you quickly notice that your married client is actually engaged in an affair and that this trip is just a cover story.  Weeks later the Principal’s wife pulls you to the side, and with tears in her eyes tells you what she suspects and begs to know the truth.  What do you do?


Would you answer change if she confided that he has physically abused her and that your affirmation of the affair would be grounds for divorce so that she could finally leave him?


Situation #3


Your client is a celebrated actress and philanthropist who just donated a large sum of money to a reputable charity in a much publicized manner.  You later discover documents showing that someone in the charity has funneled the money back to the client, effectively making it a PR stunt.  Do you do anything with this information?


Make the charity into one working on an autism cure.  Now imagine you had a younger sibling with severe autism.  Change anything?


Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.    You can also receive 1 year’s subscription to The Circuit, by  joining the North American Bodyguard Association.  Click HERE for more info.

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

Pat Tillman Family at Odds with Military Over Death

With the upcoming release of a movie based on Pat Tillman: the football star who was killed in a friendly-fire incident in the Afghan mountains and the allegations of a massive bureaucratic cover-up, new information is starting to surface regarding his family’s disbelief that the incident occurred the way the army brass reported.

One letter written by Pat’s father and penned to Brigadier General Gary M. Jones (the man spearheading the investigation) as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee (which oversaw Jones’s work) reads:

“You are a General,there is no way a man like you, with your intelligence, education, military, experience, responsibilities (primarily for difficult situations), and rank… believes the conclusions reached in the March 31, 2005 Briefing Book.”

For links to the gripping story, click HERE.

Anna Nicole Smith Bodyguard Grilled

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Defense attorneys in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy trial attempted to weaken the credibility of a key prosecution witness by questioning him about schemes to profit from his association with the former Playboy model.

Bodyguard Maurice Brighthaupt told Monday of *signing contracts with “Access Hollywood” for a total of $50,000 to provide pictures and interviews after the Playboy model died in 2007 from a drug overdose.

He said Smith had given him a camera memory card with more than 100 photographs.

Among the pictures he provided was one of him in bed with Smith and her newborn baby, Dannielynn, he said, and images of the casket and hearse that carried the body of her son, Daniel, after his death.

Brighthaupt testified last week about drug use by Smith.

The exchange began the second week of testimony in the trial of Smith’s lawyer-boyfriend Howard K. Stern and her doctors Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor. They have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide Smith excessive amounts of opiates and sedatives. They have not been charged with her death.

*The defense also sought to quiz Brighthaupt about a scheme detailed in deposition testimony in which he said he and another person planned to sell pictures of the newborn girl for $1 million.

Guess we can stop here as it’s the two underlined parts that caught my attention.  While I don’t know Mr. Brighthaupt personally, some very interesting ethical dilemmas are raised by the defense as they ask the question, “is this just about the money?”  Where does one draw the line (after death?) on client confidentiality?  Is 50 thousand ok to accept but 1 Million a sign of something corrupt?  Or is it an acceptable business practice especially for an agent that may be now out of work due to a separation from his employer, except in this case it’s being played out in the media?

I tell you what, I’ll let you answer.

For the full story click HERE.